News

Long Lake building rises from the ashes

By JUSTINE FREDERIKSEN

Staff Writer

Like most before-and-after stories, Brian Hauschel said you really needed to see both the damage and repair of the Long Lake Community Center firsthand to appreciate the change.

“You wouldn’t have known how bad it was from the police report,” said Hauschel, a maintenance manager for Kitsap County’s Facilities, Parks and Recreations Department, explaining that a fire started by three vandals in a garbage can last summer may sound trivial, but in reality it completely destroyed the inside of the building.

Smoke covered every surface with black and stench, rendering the popular gathering place and wedding spot useless and requiring a complete overhaul.

“The walls and ceiling were covered in soot, and that smell (of smoke) was never going away,” he said. “We had to strip it to its bare bones — down to the sheetrock and studs — and just start over.”

Last October, Tom Wallner of Excel Construction was hired by the county for a little under $80,000 to repair and replace everything in the building, from ceiling tiles to light fixtures, all of which had to be removed due to smoke damage.

“We took out the windows, which were vinyl, the sheetrock, and even the emergency exit lights,” said Beverly Reeves, superintendent of operations and maintenance for Facilities, Parks and Recreation.

Wallner, who Hauschel said has done “a dynamite job” on the building, was still working Tuesday, putting up doors and other finishing touches after his

crew put in all-new installation, wiring, windows, and, of course, plenty of crisp, white paint.

“You can hardly recognize the place,” Hauschel said, explaining that if there is a good side to the vandalism — the worst he has seen in a county park — it is the improvements, which include an upgraded heating and cooling system, new fixtures in the bathrooms and new lights.

“There will be a lot more light in here,” he said.

Next, Hauschel said, will come about $3,000 or $4,000 worth of furniture, and, unfortunately, the floor will have to be replaced, as well.

Reeves said her staff was hoping once “we got in there and cleaned (the floor), we could save it. But we can’t. And then you’d have a nice new building, with nasty-looking tile.”

Reeves said the building, popular among county officials and community members for everything from meetings to weddings, has sat vacant since the fire last June, costing the county more than $20,000 in lost revenue.

She said although she expects the new building to be finished by the end of February, the first events scheduled in the revamped building are not until April.

If things go well, she said, events may be added in March.

Although a preliminary estimate on the repair costs was originally $60,000, Reeves said the estimate from the county’s insurance company quickly nearly tripled.

“That includes the cleanup, repair and replacement — the whole process from start to finish,” she said. “At (the time of the first estimate), we had no idea of the extent of the damage. We thought we could just go in and clean.”

Two teens and one adult were charged in connection with the fire at the facility. Joshua David Heuer, 19 at the time of the crime, was charged with first-degree arson and burglary; his two 15-year-old accomplices, both from Olalla, were each charged with one count of second-degree burglary.

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